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Q&A with Jeremiah Shoaf

Freelance designer and Typewolf founder

Hello. My name is Jeremiah Shoaf and I'm a freelance designer living in Colorado. I'm also the designer, developer and curator of Typewolf.

How did you get started in design/typography?

I got into web design during my first year of college back in 1999. I was actually a computer science major but ended up doing a web design project in another class. I realized that I cared way more about the visual and interactive side of things than the back-end code, so I quit computer science and started taking "multimedia" classes at a community college. From there I was able to land my first real job at a software company doing web design.

I was actually fairly clueless about typographic principles until I started working for a design agency at my next job in 2002. Up until that point I had just designed things by eye without really understanding the fundamentals of typography. But when I worked at that agency it was mostly print designers and working with them taught me the importance of solid typography. Type on the web was fairly crude back in 2002, so learning about typography from a print design perspective was super valuable.

What tools and software do you use for your work?

I've been using Photoshop for 15 years so that is my go-to software for starting any kind of design project. I've also been using Sketch quite a bit lately which I'm actually starting to prefer for UI work. But I always end up jumping back into Photoshop for one reason or another. I'm a huge fan of the flat-file CMS Statamic as well – I use it to power all of the websites that I've built lately. My text editor of choice is Coda.

What are you working on now?

Lately I've been spending most of my time working on my typography inspiration side project Typewolf. I created Typewolf to solve my own frustrations I encountered when trying to choose fonts for a web design project. Foundry sites would just show type set in "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" which wasn't very useful. I wanted to see actual examples of type on websites. Seeing live websites that are using the font Avenir or the font Futura would let you evaluate how the fonts actually render on screen and how they work for navigation, headlines, body copy, etc. I also was frustrated trying to find quality free fonts on Google Fonts, so I maintain an active list of the 30 best free fonts.

I launched Typewolf in June of 2013 and since then the site has spread through word of mouth and currently receives over 150,000 unique visitors a month which is way more than I ever thought possible.

What is your ideal work environment?

My ideal work environment is my home office with my yellow lab Griffey keeping me company. A stand up desk keeps me energized and long afternoon walks in the Colorado sunshine keep me from getting burnt out.

Your favorite books about typography

Here are my three favorite typography books:

  1. The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst. This was the first book on typography I ever read and it's the one I still most recommend to others.
  2. On Web Typography by Jason Santa Maria. This is a great overview of how to apply classical principles of typography to the web.
  3. The Anatomy of Type by Stephen Coles. Reading this book made me look at typefaces in a whole new way.

Who are the designers, artists you admire most?

My favorite designer is Arnaud Mercier. He sadly passed away in 2011 but his archive of work continues to be an inspiration to me. His design had a beautiful sense of order to it and his attention to detail showed a true love for his craft.